Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Giving thanks for... learning to tap dance

I did a lot of musical theater when I was a kid and loved it. But I never had formal dance lessons (well, I did take less than one year of ballet when I was maybe five but I don't think that really counts). Everything I needed to do, dance-wise, for shows, I just picked up from following the choreographers. But the one thing you can't really 'just pick up' is tap and I always wanted to take lessons. Then, when I was in college, there was a very popular anthropology professor on campus who was also an avid tap dancer and every few years, he would teach a tap class. He happened to offer one during my senior year and I jumped at the chance. It was a blast! I just love the precision, the sound of the taps.

After many years of my tap shoes collecting dust, I finally decided this fall to sign up for another class and I found one at a local community college. I thought I would feel weird taking a class there (after all, many of the students there end up transferring to the university where I teach) but once I put on my tap shoes, I just don't care. Like other dance styles, tap obviously requires a good amount of coordination and rhythm. But tap specifically requires a ton of control over parts of your body that most of us do not think a lot about: our feet. That requires a lot of mental focus, at least for me, at the level I'm at. You can't fake it in tap - the sound gives you away.

A lot of people who run, or otherwise exercise regularly, will talk about getting in a 'zone' and the high they feel from working out. I have never felt that way when I've tried to exercise in the past but when I'm tapping, I know exactly what they are talking about. Every part of me - mind, body and soul - is engaged and I leave every class completely energized and ready to take on the world. Sometimes I think I don't really have time for it (with the time it takes to drive back and forth and find parking, the class takes a good two hours out of the middle of my day, twice a week) but then I go and feel like it's the best part of my week.

Several weeks ago, my instructor gave us 'homework' to look up Evan Ruggiero on Youtube. What we found was amazing! Enjoy!

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